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History & The Law

Special Education Key Historical Movements

Civil Rights Movement and Brown v. Board of Education
  • Prohibited segregation in public schools on the basis of race.
Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens (PARC) v Pennsylvania, 1972
  • Established the state of Pennsylvania to provide children with cognitive disabilities between the ages of 6 and 21 a free and public education (FAPE).
Mills v. Board of Education, 1972
  • Court ordered due process safeguards. The procedural safeguards included the right to appeal; the right to have access to records; and the requirement of written notice at all stages of the process. The safeguards became the framework for the due process component of the Education for All handicapped Children Act.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973
  • Prohibited discrimination against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities in programs that receive federal funding.
Education for All Handicapped Children (EAHC), 1975
  • Provided federal funding to states that agree to educate eligible students with disabilities.
Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 1990
  • Renamed the EAHC the IDEA
  • Added Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Autism (ASD) as new disability categories
  • Added transition requirements to the IEP for students age 16 or older
  • Added language that states were not immune from lawsuits under the 11Th Amendment for violations of the IDEA
  • Changed to "people first" language
Individual with Disabilities Education Act Amendments, 1997.
  • Added new IEP contents and changed the IEP team
  • Added new disciplinary provisions
  • Required states to offer mediation to parents prior to due process hearings
  • Reorganized the structure of the IDEA
Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 2004
  • Defined "highly qualified" special education teacher
  • Removed the short-term objectives requirement from IEPs, except for students with severe disabilities
  • Prohibited states from requiring school districts to use a discrepancy formula for determining eligibility of students with learning disabilities
  • Encouraged the use of a response-to-intervention model to determine if students were learning disabled.
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